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How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

9/29/2009

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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Falling:

1. The Texans’ defense: We could sort through the depth chart and pick a guy or two to single out, but then nine or 10 others would seem like they weren’t sinking. This team was not good enough defensively last season, and improving was offseason objective No. 1.

Through three games, the Texans are 31st in overall defense, 32nd against the run and tied for 17th against the pass. Overall and against the run, that’s significantly worse than in 2008. Last year, they allowed 24.6 points a game. This year they’ve boosted it to 28.4.

Fisher

2. Jeff Fisher, Titans coach: Fisher’s steady demeanor serves the Titans well and he’s probably as well equipped to hold an 0-3 team together as anyone. But he’s a big piece of why the team is there.

A hands-on special teams coach who was a punt returner himself, his plan for the return games after the Titans lost Chris Carr in free agency have proved completely insufficient. Kick returns are down from first to 29th, punt returns from 14th to 26th.

Brown

3. Chris Brown, Texans RB: Houston wants badly to pair Steve Slaton and Brown for their own version of the increasingly popular complementary brand of backs backfield. But things haven’t shaped up to allow for it thus far. Sunday the Texans turned to Brown at the goal line at the end of the game in a crucial situation.

And from the 2-yard line with 2:10 left in the game and a tying TD in sight, he fumbled into the end zone and the Texans lost the ball and the game. Brown’s line: eight carries, 19 yards.

Rising:

1. The Colts: The win that got them to 3-0 was a complete game with solid performances from the offense and the defense on the second piece of very difficult back-to-back road trips.

The offense was precise and hard to control, producing 505 net yards and 31 points. The defense had three takeaways and four sacks and didn’t give up a play longer than 25 yards against an explosive offense. Now what about Dwight Freeney’s quad?

Jones-Drew

2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars RB: Against a team that struggled the week before with Chris Johnson, Jones-Drew made sure the Texans didn’t solve their run struggles and had a monstrous day with 119 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

He’s the guy the team looks to -- that’s coaches and front office, not just players -- and it was fitting he was the centerpiece in the first win of the season.

Smith

Ingram

3. Daryl Smith and Clint Ingram, Jaguars LBs: The Jaguars always talk up their linebackers, but the sort of plays expected from a group supposed to be the spine of the defense haven’t shown up often enough.

In Houston, Ingram had a big fourth-quarter sack of Matt Schaub that provided a spark and Smith made the defensive play of the game, maybe the day -- stripping Brown and recovering what could have been a game-tying touchdown in the end zone for a touchback.